FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The past two years haven't quite unfolded like Blair Gavin would have preferred.
The highly regarded Akron product burst onto the scene as an effective and promising piece of the Chivas USA midfield during his rookie season in 2010. His performances suggested a bright future, but he saw his ambitions temporarily derailed over the past season-and-a-half through lingering hamstring concerns and spotty playing time.
A return to his rookie form beckoned once he found full fitness earlier this year, but Gavin couldn't find a way to earn a regular place in Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser's starting XI or prevent those nagging injuries from hampering his efforts to do so.
“It was difficult,” Gavin told MLSsoccer.com last week. “I saw myself, like most players, wanting to play more. I thought I had the ability to [do so], but, at the end of the day, Robin put out lineups that he thought were going to win. And you can't blame the guy. I think this was the best fit for everyone. I'm just excited to have a fresh start and start my new journey.”
It is a journey that remains his own, despite the rather famous figure for whom he was traded. Gavin will be forever linked with ex-Revolution captain and MLS veteran Shalrie Joseph after the two men swapped clubs last week, although that bond won't prompt Gavin to alter his qualities in an attempt to replace the long-time midfield fixture.
“My first reaction when I got the phone call – and [I was not told] who I got traded for – was, 'Wow, I get to play with Shalrie,'" Gavin said. “I heard later, and I was like, OK, he's done amazing things. We all know his credentials. I'm a big fan of his. I've watched him play for a long time. I'm not trying to take his place or anything of that nature. I'm trying to come here and maybe set a legacy of my own, grow with the fans here. Hopefully, something will come of it.”
Gavin may have to wait patiently to make an impact on his new team after he missed last Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City with left hamstring tightness. Revolution boss Jay Heaps said last week he wanted Gavin to spend some time with the club's training staff to ensure he could work his way back to full fitness before making his debut.
Once Gavin shakes off his current hamstring complaint, he must somehow convince Heaps that he deserves a place in a crowded central midfield picture that already includes Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen and Clyde Simms.
Accomplishing that particular task could prove difficult, but Gavin said he will toil diligently for his new club and remind people of the promise he showed during his rookie campaign.
“I'm just going to play to my abilities,” Gavin said. “Hopefully, that will earn me a spot. If not, I'm just going to make the guys around me better and, hopefully, take this team where they want to go.”